TUCSON, Ariz. — Thomas Welsh scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and No. 5 UCLA dominated the offensive boards to beat No. 4 Arizona 77-72 in a Pac-12 showdown Saturday night.
The Bruins (26-3, 13-3) snapped Arizona’s 21-game home court winning streak and dropped the Wildcats (26-4, 15-2) into a tie with Oregon for first place in the Pac-12 heading into the final week of the regular season. The Ducks hold the tiebreaker by beating Arizona in the teams’ only meeting.
UCLA, avenging a 96-85 home loss to Arizona on Jan. 21, trailed 53-49 at the half but took control with a 19-4 second-half run.
Allonzo Trier scored a career-high 28 for the Wildcats. Parker Jackson-Cartwright added 11, and Lauri Markkanen had 10 for Arizona.
Five players reached double figures for the Bruins, led by Bryce Alford’s 15. TJ Leaf and Aaron Holiday added 12 apiece, and Lonzo Ball had 11 along with eight assists.
UCLA had 19 second-chance points to Arizona’s four. In the second half, the Bruins outrebounded the Wildcats 9-1 on the offensive boards.
The Bruins switched to a zone most of the second half and stretched the lead to 11 twice late in the game, the last at 73-62 on Welsh’s’ inside basket with 4:38 to play before Arizona managed one final charge, finishing the game on a 10-4 run.
Markkanen’s two free throws cut the Bruins’ lead to 75-72 with 29.2 seconds to play. Holiday missed the first of a one-and-one free throw opportunity and Arizona had a chance to tie it but Kadeem Allen, with a dislocated pinkie finger on his shooting hand, threw up an air ball from 3-point range.
After trailing by as many as seven points, Arizona outscored the Bruins 10-1 over the last 2 1-2 minutes of the first half to lead 43-39 at the break. Jackson-Cartwright scored seven in the surge.
UCLA took the lead for good, 54-53, on Welsh’s basket with 12:52 to play.
With the victory, UCLA had come back to beat all three teams that have beaten them this season. After a two-point loss at Oregon on Dec. 28, the Bruins came back to beat the Ducks in Los Angeles 82-79 on Feb. 9.
USC upset the Bruins 84-76 on Jan. 25 but UCLA came back to rout the Trojans 102-70 on Feb. 18.
The outcome in Tucson could set the stage for a rematch between the two teams in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournaments.
Assuming, both teams win out, Arizona would be the tournament’s No. 2 seed and UCLA the No. 3. Oregon would get the No. 1 seed and, barring upsets, would face the UCLA-Arizona winner in the conference title game.
UCLA: The Bruins return home to face Washington on Wednesday night.
Arizona: The Wildcats play their final regular-season game of the season at Arizona State on Thursday.
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